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Article

Among the many strengths of higher education is the adaptability of faculty to create curricula in response to the changing needs of society. Since the 1950s, there has been a growing awareness of the consequences of modernity on natural environmental processes. This, in turn, has led to a dramatic increase in course offerings on many subjects related to the environment and sustainability, including substantial teaching and research activity in global environmental politics. Examining what is being taught in the nation’s classrooms provides an opportunity to gain insight into how college teachers are preparing students for the world they live in. One way to demonstrate the complex ways in which global environmental politics can be taught is by viewing it through the lens of Shulman’s framework, called “pedagogical content knowledge.” Derived from principles in contemporary learning theory, Shulman proposed approaching pedagogy by having teachers work through six steps: comprehension, transformation, instruction, evaluation, reflection, and new comprehension. Viewing the teaching of global environmental politics through these six steps is useful to seeing the depth and complexity of teaching in this particular subject area. Using this framework, an analysis of how college teachers have approached their course preparation shows that most professors continue to use conventional approaches to teaching. These approaches include a traditional way of teaching, mostly lecture with classroom interaction and group work and a traditional choice of content, with an emphasis on literature with western epistemological worldviews. From this examination, one can conclude that the teaching of global environmental politics can be strengthened by integrating Shulman’s framework into the classroom: setting the context; building positive social norms; emphasizing inquiry, discovery, and synthesis; and creating the possibility of transformation.

Article

The teaching of international organization (IO) poses unique challenges. One is deciding whether to take a broad global governance-IO approach dealing with the creation, revision, and enforcement of rules that mark different governance arrangements, the roles of formal, informal, intergovernmental, and nongovernmental IOs, and the politics, dynamics, and processes of problem-solving and governance in various issue areas, a theory-driven approach, or an IOs approach focusing primarily on select formal intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) and possibly nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), emphasizing structures, charters, mandates, and functions. Either choice could lead one to utilize recent literature on IGOs (and to a lesser extent NGOs) as organizations and bureaucracies, examining their design, functions, and performance or behavior. Another is the extent to which various international relations as well as IO-related theories such as theories of cooperation, regime and institution formation and evolution, functionalism, constructivism, and others are integrated into an IO course. To what extent are students introduced to currents of critical theory such as postmodernism, Marxism, feminism, and postcolonialism in relationship to IOs? There is also the question of which IGOs—global and/or regional—to include given the range of possibilities. How all the abovementioned issues are addressed will strongly influence choices with regard to textbooks, other readings, and various types of electronically available materials.

Article

Case-based learning offers several advantages in the study of international relations. For instructors, the primary attraction of case-based learning is its emphasis on active student engagement. Rather than reading the assigned material, passively listening to lectures, and memorizing notes, students are drawn into more active roles as their classroom instructors ask questions and require student participation. For students, case-based learning connects course material to the real world beyond the classroom. Regardless of the nature of the case or its source, instructors can take steps to ensure success with a case-based approach. First, instructors should know the details of the case: the background, the facts and events, the issues, the participants, and the results. Second, instructors should ensure that the physical setting of the classroom is appropriate for the anticipated task. Third, instructors should be attentive to the size of the class. Small classes promote participation by more students. Finally, instructors can be attentive to the possibility of pairing cases for comparative discussion and analysis. The success of case-based learning also rests in students' awareness that that passivity on their part is unacceptable. Thus, instructors must be sure that they convey the expectation that students must come to class ready to participate. Some common problems associated with case-based learning include time management, silence or apathy on the part of the students, and the failed class.

Article

Michael Kuchinsky

Various media sources are available to enhance the teaching of international affairs, including literature, film, political cartoons, television programming, newspapers, music, and blogs and other internet-driven resources. Literature has perhaps the longest history as an alternative media resource. The arguments in favor of using literature for teaching international affairs focus on engaging students and livening up their learning experience. Film and video resources can enhance knowledge of international relations by dramatizing and personalizing abstract ideas as well as ordinary events. Films also impact student learning because of their emotional appeal. Cartoons as political expression deserve attention because their significant place in forming public opinion and debate. Although the use of television programming in teaching international affairs appears rarely in the literature, one can consider several current and past popular programs that carried significant political content. These include the European-produced miniseries Traffic that graphically depicted the international political economy of opium, and the syndicated television comedy M*A*S*H, which has raised many questions regarding the pursuit and effects of war. Music and politics frequently mix, as seen in the importance of a national anthem or the political spectacle that unfolds in Olympic Games. Digital online sources and materials push the classroom experience away from linear input–output models and toward information network communities where inputs enter from anywhere.

Article

Theory can be a controversial element of an Introduction to International Relations (IR) course. Many undergraduate students have not been trained to think theoretically, and as a result many instructors find the abstract elements of IR theory difficult to teach, especially to students who lack the motivation provided by plans to major in political science or IR. But learning to think theoretically and to understand IR theory specifically is a valuable exercise for undergraduate students, particularly for nonmajors. Whether or not one believes IR theory to be good in and of itself, studying theory is a critical component of a complete liberal education, one that prepares students to be engaged global citizens. In addition to exploring effective ways to teach particular theories, instructors should work on making sense of the purpose of studying IR theory in ways that resonate with students. Learning IR theory requires students to think theoretically, something familiar to all who have survived the gauntlet of a doctoral program. Teaching students to think theoretically requires instructors, first, to empathize with the limited experience most undergraduate students have with academic theory, and second, to build learning environments that engage and authorize students as theoreticians. Utilizing active learning techniques and thoughtful assessment exercises, instructors can create environments more conducive to learning IR theory while engaging students in areas and media to which they are already connected. This approach to teaching requires adventurousness in the classroom and broader discussions about how to teach IR in general.

Article

The Scientific Study of International Processes (SSIP) is an approach aimed at teaching of international politics scientifically. Teaching scientifically means teaching students how to use evidence to support or disprove some particular logical argument or hypothesis that reaches some level of generalization about relationships between concepts. Closely related to simply asking what evidence there is, is teaching students to address the breadth, depth, and quality of that evidence. The scientific approach may also draw attention to the logic of arguments and policies. Are policies, positions, and the arguments behind them logical? Or is some policy or position based on assumptions that are not logically related, or only true if certain auxiliary assumptions hold true? Teaching methods for SSIP include comparative case studies, experiments and surveys, data sets, and game theory and simulation. Instructors also face several challenges when seeking to teach scientifically, and in particular when they try to make time to teach methodology as part of an international politics course. Some problems are relatively easily overcome just by focusing on effective teaching. Other are unique to SSIP and cannot be dealt with quite so easily. Among these are the need to appeal to a broad audience, and dealing with students' negative reactions to the term “science” and the constraint of finite time in a course.

Article

Mary N. Hampton and Kathleen A. Mahoney-Norris

One aspect of women’s professional experience in the field of international studies is that of teaching. Women’s experience in the gendered classroom has been shaped by three general factors: their identity, their interests, and the institutions in which they work. Major dimensions of identity can be grouped into: identity as reputation; identity as race and sex; and identity as role models and mentors. Meanwhile, women’s teaching is clearly affected by their scholarly interests, which impact on both the subjects they choose to teach and their pedagogical approaches. While it would not be surprising to find that women teachers tend to teach more about women and feminism, a major survey of International Relations (IR) faculty in the United States found other significant differences between women and men in the classroom, often linked to women’s differing research interests. Women’s teaching is also impacted by the institutional environment in which they work. Surveys and studies across the academic spectrum confirm the importance not only of gender equity at institutions, but also the presence of an institutional climate, or culture, that is friendly to women faculty. Major elements that affect the institutional environment include the number of faculty women (including senior women); the type of institution (its focus on research or teaching); and the ability to offer feminist and gender courses, and related pedagogies.

Article

Craig Douglas Albert and Mary Frances Rosett Lebamoff

A review of syllabi from members of the ethnicity, nationalism, and migration studies (ENMS) section of the International Studies Association shows that “teaching ethnic conflict” covers has several parts: the classical literature, main themes used in the classroom, including theories of ethnicity/nationalism, causes of ethnic conflict, responses, and regions of the world. One of the most prevalent themes in classical texts is identity formation. EMNS professors appear to focus on three approaches: primordialism, instrumentalism, and constructivism. It is assertable that each approach has dominated the discipline at specific times. While one approach may be the focal point of ENMS, each coexists with the others. The next most widely used topic in ENMS classrooms is theories of ethnic conflict. Ethnic conflict studies focus on in-group/out-group relationships and how the two conflict. Migration is also studied within the framework of ethnicity and nationalism, which may be attributed to their many interconnections. For example, the harsh treatment of ethnic minorities within a state may result in mass expulsion, ethnic cleansing, war, and even voluntary exile by the oppressed group. Government oppression may include mass violence, but also economic discrimination. This may result in ethnic peoples outside of their traditional homeland seeking asylum in another state that is friendlier to them.

Article

Jeffrey S. Bachman

Teaching genocide is a complex endeavor. The field of genocide studies is unique in the scale of its interdisciplinarity. Indeed, genocide studies lacks a disciplinary home, meaning those who teach genocide approach the subject from incredibly diverse disciplines, fields, and subfields. Yet, despite the pedagogical activity on genocide education, including the proliferation of undergraduate and graduate courses, many students will only take one course on genocide before they graduate. When designing a course on genocide, teachers must decide what to include in such a course. Teaching genocide is further complicated by ongoing debates and contestation in the field. Though the Genocide Convention legally defines genocide, this definition has been endlessly scrutinized, with scholars identifying numerous deficiencies and developing alternative definitions. Which definition of genocide employed is also a determining factor in which cases are recognized as genocide. When certain definitions are used, in particular those that limit genocide to mass killing, and a limited number of applicable cases are studied, a hegemonic understanding of genocide may emerge. Therefore, the definitional debates have implications for genocide recognition, response, and historical memory. Contestation and debate in genocide studies, however, also provides teachers with space for creativity and innovation. Students can join their teachers as genocide scholars. Together, teachers and students can participate in the definitional debates and analyze cases. They can approach questions such as how did mass killing come to be synonymous with genocide? And why are some cases of genocide studied disproportionately compared with others? The answers to these and associated questions have real consequences for affected peoples and historical memory. Importantly, teaching genocide can be an act of critical exploration, or what Dirk Moses and Alex Hinton refer to as “critical genocide studies.” Teachers need guidance for designing a course that encourages critical engagement through direct participation in the field’s many debates.

Article

Leah Seppanen Anderson

A review of undergraduate course offerings at top-ranked colleges and universities in the United States and analysis of course syllabi from undergraduate programs in political science have revealed certain trends in the teaching post-communist politics. For instance, majority of schools now offer post-communist politics courses, although a student at a national university is more likely than one at a liberal arts institution to have the opportunity to learn about the region. Regardless of the type of school, students will most commonly study post-communism from a comparative, rather than international relations, perspective. Comparative courses usually focus on Russia and East Central Europe. Undergraduates curious about why a course on Russian politics matters will most often find syllabi that present the course as an examination of one of the most “dramatic political events of the twentieth century.” The examination of political change and continuing instability or chaos in Russian politics is another common theme. A few syllabi structure the course around theoretical concerns of the discipline and practical policy questions, framing the semester as a study of the quality and scope of democracy in Russia since the end of communism. East Central European (ECE) politics courses encompass multiple states, which creates opportunities and challenges not present in teaching Russian politics. Undergraduates are most likely introduced to East Central Europe through a thematic study of the entire region rather than extensive, individual country case studies.

Article

The adoption of new technologies in instruction will change the nature of instruction itself. There are four broad categories of the potential benefits of technology in higher education: off-loading; enhanced resources; enriched conventional class lecture/discussion; and outreach through distance education. Other college and university administrators have seen technology as either a money-saving or money-making tool for their institutions. The technologies most commonly associated with pedagogy include desktop software, internet-mediated communications, World Wide Web pages, distance education courseware, internet access to statistical databases, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), cellphone and personal digital assistant applications, and classroom response systems (CRS). There has been a modest and somewhat sporadic literature on teaching with technology in international studies, much of which follows the development of new technologies, such as personal computers, the World Wide Web, and courseware development. The three major themes in the scholarship on technology in teaching and learning in international studies include technology-based enthusiasm/experimentation, comparative studies, and skepticism. However, some of the challenges to scholarship in teaching and learning with technology: the use of technology has become so pervasive, accepted, and easy that few teacher-scholars bother to write in scholarly journals about the act; weak structure of incentives for studying the use of technology in teaching and learning; and technological instability and discontinuity. Nevertheless, there are some technologies and trends that may appear in the future international relations course. These include podcasting, Real Simple Syndication (RSS) Feeds, Twittering, and Wikipeda and Google Books.

Article

Computer simulations can be defined in three categories: computational modeling simulations, human-computer simulations, and computer-mediated simulations. These categories of simulations are defined primarily by the role computers take and by the role humans take in the implementation of the simulation. The literature on the use of simulations in the international studies classroom considers under what circumstances and in what ways the use of simulations creates pedagogical benefits when compared with other teaching methods. But another issue to consider is under what circumstances and in what ways the use of computers can add (or subtract) pedagogical value when compared to other methods for implementing simulations. There are six alleged benefits of using simulation: encouraging cognitive and affective learning, enhancing student motivation, creating opportunities for longer-term learning, increasing personal efficiency, and promoting student-teacher relations. Moreover, in regard to the use of computer simulations, there are a set of good practices to consider. The first good practice emerges out of a realization of the unequal level of access to technology. The second good practice emerges from a clear understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of a computer-assisted simulation. The final and perhaps most fundamental good practice emerges from the idea that computers and technology more generally are not ends in themselves, but a means to help instructors reach a set of pedagogical goals.

Article

Kimberly A. Weir and Vicki L. Golich

Pedagogy is the discipline that deals with the theory and practice of teaching. Pedagogy informs teaching strategies, teacher actions, and teacher judgments and decisions by taking into consideration theories of learning, understandings of students and their needs, and the backgrounds and interests of individual students. The teaching of global political economy (GPE) offers an alternative, and a challenge, to conventional economics education. Its emphasis on the competing currents of economic thought and their association with rival political philosophies adds complexity to the subject. However, this engagement with controversial issues creates more intellectual excitement than a narrow, “technical” treatment of orthodox analysis. There is also more scope for students to link their own personal experiences with the broader concerns of political economy. By emphasizing a liberal educational philosophy, educators can attain a more grounded approach to study, relating to students’ own experiences and more explicitly acknowledging the role of personal and political values. Scholars argue that there are viable alternatives to the standard micro-macro-quantitative curriculum and to the conventional teaching of economics. A pedagogy emphasizing controversies, linking competing economic analyses and different political perspectives, is possible. Ultimately, the teaching of global political economy has some inherent advantages as a means of interesting and engaging students.

Article

International service learning has become increasingly popular in higher education. Such trips focus on cultivating skills in students, including civic engagement and intercultural understanding, while also being key ways for students to achieve self-growth and learn to apply and contextualize the theories they learn in the classroom in the real world. The goals often outlined in the literature about international service learning tend to be student-centric. While pedagogical goals matter, faculty should also keep in mind the ethics of engaging community partners, especially given the often unequal power relationship at play in the practice of international service learning. Being more attentive to these ethical dilemmas may not eliminate them, but it will ensure that students are considering and learning from the gray areas involved in international service learning, including their own individual relationships to power and injustice. Additionally, faculty should consider how to avoid replicating neocolonial logics in their desire to expose students to the world beyond themselves. Specifically, faculty should be more mindful of the language they use to describe these trips and avoid reifying the notion that service learning is something to be done in the developing world while study trips tend to be conducted in the developed world. Engaging reciprocity with a community partner in both the design and practice of the trip, preparing for cultural complexity in advance by situating the students in larger sets of geopolitical and economic practices, being honest about the skill set students bring to the table, being aware of the cultural and gender dynamics at play, and building in time for reflection before, during, and after the trip are all ways to attend to the larger ethical considerations at play.

Article

Pedagogical objectives and educational outcomes play a significant role in foreign policy analysis. The actor-centered approach of foreign policy analysis gives students the unique opportunity to place themselves in the shoes of decision makers and to understand the different constraints, both domestic and international, that influence the policies adopted by decision makers. In other words, foreign policy analysis can have two functions: to teach students about the processes by which foreign policy is made, or the substance of the foreign policies of various countries, and to enhance students’ ability to imagine the perspectives of others. Whether foreign policy analysis does, in fact, manage to develop this ability is an empirical question that also depends on the course emphasis and pedagogies employed. In this sense, pedagogy does not only mean excellent teaching, but also systematic investigation of teaching methods and techniques, student learning outcomes, educational assessment, and curriculum development. The literature on foreign policy analysis, pedagogy, and curriculum emphasizes active learning strategies and the need for clearly articulated learning objectives for the curriculum as a whole and the place of specific courses within it. Examples of active learning pedagogies are case teaching, simulations, and problem-based learning. Despite some very worthwhile research that has been done, there are still some gaps that need to be addressed. One is the lack of empirical work that helps evaluate the merits of the various teaching strategies in foreign policy analysis, and another is the inconsistent findings produced by the empirical studies that do exist.